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Bryn Forbes: The Next Spurs Breakout Player?

Contributor Francis Adu looks at if Bryn Forbes can use his great Summer League performance to be San Antonio’s next breakout star.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

While he may be known most if at all to NBA fans for having a name that infers more a mumblecore film darling than a professional basketball player, Bryn Forbes used the 2017 Salt Lake City and Las Vegas Summer Leagues to demonstrate some world-class scoring.

After the Lansing, Michigan native spent his four years at Cleveland State and Michigan State shooting 43.5% from three point range on an average of over fivedeep attempts per game for his entire NCAA career, Forbes parlayed similar shooting prowess in the 2016 Summer League. With the Spurs Summer League team, Forbes put up 11.6 points on 44% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc in only 25 minutes per game. That production was enough for the Spurs to sign him to a multi-year deal.

One year later, Forbes may have yet again use Summer League to boost his status in the NBA. This year, it looks like Forbes might be able to parlay himself into a legitimate rotation role for the Spurs as his scoring may have lent influence onto the Spurs’ decision to relinquish the rights to last year’s breakout star Jonathon Simmons.

Forbes averaged 25.9 points per game across seven games from the two 2017 Summer Leagues he participated in. Not only did those seven games have Forbes scoring at a volume more than doubling his NCAA average point output (12.6 PPG), but that incredible average led all qualified Summer League players in points per game.

Operating the Spurs Summer League offense with Kyrie-esque usage, Forbes not only maintained his knockdown shooting ability from range with 40% from 3 on nearly nine attempts, but he showed an encouraging willingness to take contact to draw over 7 free throws a game. Contrast the seven free throw attempts a game in the Summer League performances to Forbes drawing six TOTAL free throws in 284 minutes in the 2016-17 NBA season.

Forbes’s super-scoring in the 2017 Summer Leagues may cause double takes for 98% of NBA fans, but it would be slightly insincere to claim this summer has shown a never-before-seen side of Bryn Forbes. In frequent migrations to San Antonio’s NBAGL affiliate, the Austin Spurs, during the 2016-17 NBA season, Forbes rained hellfire onto other G League teams as well by scoring 23.3 points and shooting 45.9% from 3 in 19 games.

Even the free throw spike had been hinted at by Forbes managing a respectable 4.4 attempts from the stripe per contest. The Summer League performances more point to a continued evolution of the potency of his skills against similar competition.

The Spurs currently have some opportunities in the backcourt to allow a player like Forbes to compete with last year’s first round pick DeJounte Murray and this year’s first round pick Derrick White for playing time. They’re expected to work in their 2nd unit behind Patty Mills and Danny Green, who should work in their starting lineup as franchise legend Tony Parker rehabilitates a devastating leg injury suffered in the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

The developing flashes of off-the-dribble proficiency by Forbes still need to be tested against the elite quality of the NBA but still spark encouragement for a less stagnant role in the Spurs’ gameplan.

Forbes brings a lot to be desired on the defensive end but a Gregg Popovich-assembled defense has seldom struggled to mask its weaknesses and the need for the Spurs to have another scoring threat off the bench looks imperative even with the addition of Rudy Gay. He has shown often enough he at least deserves a sincere try in the rotation role as his level of shooting proficiency does not peep its head around the corner too often.